A pair of healthcare technology companies have developed a software application and a wireless stethoscope that lets doctors and other providers capture heart and lung sounds that can be uploaded to a patients electronic health record.
Physicians using the digital stethoscope developed by Eko Devices Inc. can capture heart and lung sounds such as heart murmur or lung congestion through the device and wirelessly transmit those sounds via the stethoscope and a mobile app to an electronic health records system developed by Dr. Chrono, a maker of mobile medical record-keeping platforms.
Eko and Dr. Chrono tested their digital stethoscope, the wireless technology and mobile app that enable heart and lung sounds to be added to electronic medical records with Direct Urgent Care, which treats about 30,000 patients through walk-in clinics in Berkeley, Mountain View and Oakland, Calif.
The aim of capturing heart and lung sounds is to provide clinicians with a more accurate picture of how a patients heart and lungs are performing than would a written record and medical notes. By listening to actual sounds on a recurring basis, physicians can better track patient performance and look for changes to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, says Dr. Richard Loomis, vice chairman for the Electronic Medical Records Association and chief medical officer and vice president of informatics at Practice Fusion.
When the data is collected and sent to their physicians via telemedicine applications and uploaded to an electronic health record, care decisions can be made by a specialist without requiring the patient to be present, Loomis says. Care then becomes more efficient and convenient for the patient and providers have the latest information readily available.
Including an audio record of the heart and lungs in a patients electronic heath record makes it easier for physicians to share that information with a specialist in another location, says Eko chief operating officer Jason Bellet. For example, this flexibility makes it possible for patients with chronic or complex heart and lung conditions living in rural areas to get a second opinion from a specialist without having to travel long distances, he says.
Its not easy for physicians to document the sounds they actually heard when examining a patients heart and lungs in a written record, Bellet says.
For now clinicians using Ekos digital stethoscope can only upload patient records to Dr. Chronos platform. Patients can access their electronic health records though Drchrono.com and view an audio read-out of their heart and lungs. Dr. Chrono provides electronic health records, medical billing and practice and revenue management services to 100,000 physicians treating about seven million patients, the company says.
Dr. Chrono offers several pricing plans for physicians starting at $199 per month for basic electronic health records and practice management systems. Premium packages, which can include medical billing and revenue cycle management, start at $299 per month and run as much as several thousand dollars each month, the company says.
Ekos digital stethoscope sells for $299. The company is a 2015 start-up based in Berkeley. Dr. Chrono is based in Mountain View, in the Silicon Valley region of California.